Sheriff’s female ranks hit record high

Times Staff Writer

More than 1,400 of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s sworn officers are women, a record high number, officials said Tuesday.

At the same time, sexual harassment and other gender-related lawsuits mostly brought by female officers against the department have declined significantly, Undersheriff Larry Waldie told the county Board of Supervisors.

The Sheriff’s Department report, requested by Supervisor Gloria Molina, involves a 1993 federal consent decree resulting from a decades-old gender discrimination lawsuit. The county has spent about $43 million related to the litigation; the consent decree remains in effect.


Sheriff’s officials believe they’ve exceeded the consent decree’s requirements for recruitment, training, promotion and fair treatment of women in the department.

“Just by the numbers alone we have really moved forward,” Waldie said, adding that 1,410, or 16.1%, of the department’s sworn officers are women.

Since Sheriff Lee Baca was elected in 1998, 21% of sheriff’s academy graduates have been women, according to statistics from the state Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training, compared with 17% for the Los Angeles Police Department and 8% for the California Highway Patrol.

The Sheriff’s Department’s percentage of female sworn officers also exceeds the 9% average across state law enforcement agencies, and the 12% national average.

“We have positive cultural change in the department,” said Cmdr. Lynda R. Castro.

The department has more high-ranking women across the board, with the number of female lieutenants more than doubling to 57 and sergeants increasing from 103 to 191 in the last nine years.